Trekker recalls horror during mountain climb in Ras Al Khaimah
Take all precautions, but be prepared for the worst, says hiker
18:33 March 19, 2017
Ras Al Khaimah: Trekking is a passion for many in the UAE, who look forward to cooler winter months to explore the rugged mountains in the north. But, like most outdoor activities, it comes with a significant amount of risk.
It doesn’t take long for the cool factor in an adventure sport to turn into a misfortune. You might be experienced and well-equipped, but the danger is always there.
In an interview with Gulf News, a trekker recalls how a recent trip to the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah almost turned into a nightmare.
Olga Zolotova, an adventure sport enthusiast, was on a trek on March 10 with a group of experienced hikers, when a member of the group slipped and fell off a cliff.
Fortunately, she survived with minor injuries, but it could have been much worse.
“This case is a good reminder to every hiker, regardless of the [person’s] experience, that when you go outdoor you always are taking risk. You can eliminate risk to a certain extent [right gear, enough water, medical supply, helmets, route knowledge etc.] but you can’t eliminate the risk fully. Even the most experienced hiker can slip and fall,” said 26-year-old Zolotova, who has been trekking for the last three years.
She added that though it is important to prepare well for the adventure, what is more important is being prepared for the worst outcome.
Referring to the accident on March 10, she said: “This accident could have happened to anyone. In this particular case, it had nothing to do with her experience, group size, gear etc. The person who fell was into sport, athletic, she was wearing proper equipment, but she slipped, and it happened.”
Giving details of the trip, Zolotova, who is from Russia, said that the hike was organised by a local expatriate forum to promote sport and outdoor activities with experienced members who had taken all the necessary precautions.
According to Zolotova, on the morning of March 10, the group met at a gas station as they had agreed in advance and headed towards RAK.
“The weather was nice, when we arrived at the starting point, we filled the water bottles, put on the gear and started the ascent. The route was steep and quite exposed, but not difficult technically,” she said.
For logistical purposes the group of around 20 people was split into two smaller groups, added Zolotova, making sure that there were experienced hikers in both groups to help the inexperienced members.
“There were many people who had climbed high-altitude mountains before and have had a long climbing and hiking experience, so splitting into small groups was a right decision,” she said.
At one point on the route, the group came across a big boulder, she said, “but it was not difficult to climb and most of the group, including me, climbed it quickly.”
However, when Zolotova came on top of the boulder she heard a sound of falling rocks and heard people screaming.
“I rushed down to see what happened and could not see anything. People explained to me that a member of our group slipped on the rocks, rolled down and fell off the small cliff (about a metre or two deep),” she explained.
Though the victim hit her head on a rock and was bleeding, she luckily didn’t suffer any fractures and only had a few bruises. However, she was obviously in a state of shock.
“Due to the nature of the route, it was very difficult to carry her down, and to go all the way up and complete hike was also dangerous, she needed medical assistance. We immediately called the local police and emergency and, in the meantime, we used bandage to stop the bleeding,” said Zolotova.
She said that police and a rescue helicopter arrived at the scene within 15 minutes but since there was no proper spot for it to land, the helicopter returned to get a special rescue team with ropes to get the victim down to safety.
“Police and the rescue teams were extremely prompt. Once she was rescued and taken to the hospital, we continued our trek and completed it in the next couple of hours. Our friend had to spend a number of days in the hospital to make sure everything is alright and now she is fine,” Zolotova added.
Though, accidents happen despite all precautions, Zolotova said she doesn’t want beginners to lose interest in hiking due to the risks involved.
“There are many nice hiking places in UAE and Oman and I am personally a fan of the outdoors. Just be careful, be prepared and enjoy the nature in a safe and respectful way,” she said.